Acuras Ignition Troubleshooting and Repairs
Acura Troubleshoot
How Igniters work

Acura Ignition Troubleshooting

CAUTION: 

Always ground the high-voltage secondary port on the coil when doing electrical tests and cranking. The igniter or coil may destroy itself by finding another short path to ground. Shorting the high voltage port out won't harm the coil.

CAUTION: 

Always switch off the ignition or disconnect the negative battery cable before doing repair work on the electronic ignition system.

Integra: Igniter Unit is in the distributor

86-90 Legend: Igniter Unit is on the right side of the engine compartment, in front of the shock tower.

86-90 Legend: Igniter Unit is on the right side of the engine compartment, on the wheel well.

Vigor: Igniter Unit is in the right rear of the engine compartment, in front of the battery.

 

 


TOOL REQUIRED FOR THIS TEST

 test light 

 

LET'S BEGIN FINDING THE FAULT- but make sure to check the basic PGM-FI troubleshooting on the previous ignition page.

What is an igniter input test? 

An input test measure battery power at the igniter terminals. Thus, the word input is what is going to the igniter.  A passed input test doesn't necessarily mean that the igniter is broken (Do not trust the service manual.) Do not replace it. Many people have used the original igniter for over 250K, requiring that you replace your ignition wires, spark plugs, cap and rotor often.

 Figure 14. Integra.

 

Steps for second generation INTEGRA

  1. See diagram below. Remove the distributor cap, rotor and dust cover.
  2. Make sure Blk/Yel has battery power with the key switch ON (using a test light is fine.)
  3. If voltage is present, disconnect the WHT/BLU wire from the igniter. Check for battery voltage between the WHT/BLU wire and ground. Voltage should be present. If voltage is not present, check for an open in the WHT/BLU wire between the ignition coil and the igniter or a disconnected terminal.
  4. If voltage is present, check for continuity between the igniter body and distributor housing.
  5. If all tests check good and the system still fails to function, continue with steps below.

 


acuralegend  Figure 18. 86-90 Acura Legend (first generation.)

BU = thicker lead

BU2 = thin lead

 Steps for 1986-1990 Acura LEGEND (first generation)

  1. Disconnect the 4 pin connector from the igniter.
  2. Turn the ignition switch ON. Check for voltage between the BLK/YEL wire and ground. There should be battery voltage.
  3. If not, check the BLK/YEL wire for voltage, between the ignition switch, ignition coil and igniter, if voltage is present, proceed to the next step. If voltage is not present, repair open circuit.
  4. Turn the ignition switch ON. Check for voltage between the BLK/YEL wire and ground. Voltage should be present.
  5. If voltage is not present, check the BLU wire, between the ignition coil and igniter. Also check for voltage at the ignition coil.
  6. If voltage is not present, proceed to next step.
  7. Check the for voltage at the RED/BLU wire, between the PGM-FI ECU and igniter.
  8. Check the for pulse at the RED/BLU wire, between the PGM-FI ECU and igniter using a test LED jig (see instructions for building a LED jig below.)
  9. If test LED pulse or blinks on RED/BLU and test light does not blink on BLU wire while cranking, replace the igniter unit. 
  10. If test LED pulse or blinks on RED/BLU and test light blinks on BLU wire while cranking, replace the coil. 



 

acuralegend  Figure 19. Integra (first generation.)

 

Steps for first generation INTEGRA

  1. Remove the distributor cap, rotor and dust cover. 
  2. Turn the ignition switch ON and check for battery voltage between the positive terminal on the coil and ground. Voltage should be present. If voltage is not present, check for an open in the BLK/YEL wire or a disconnected terminal.
  3. If voltage is present, disconnect the BLK/YEL wire from the igniter. Check for battery voltage between the BLK/YEL positive wire and ground. If voltage is not present, check for an open in the BLK/YEL wire between the ignition coil and the igniter.
  4. If voltage is present, disconnect the WHT/BLU wire from the igniter. Check for battery voltage between the WHT/BLU wire and ground. Voltage should be present. If voltage is not present, check for an open in the WHT/BLU wire between the ignition coil and the igniter or a disconnected terminal.
  5. If voltage is present, check for continuity between the igniter body and distributor housing.
  6. If all tests check good and the system still fails to function, go to "Igniter and Coil Test."

 

How do I test the igniter and coil?

 

Integra

Acura TLAcura Legend



1. Normally there are two to four terminals at the coil input.

2. Connect one end of the BULB jig (test light) to the battery (+) terminal..

3. Probe the tip of the other end to any wire, preferably the one marked ( - ) on the coil. If it's not marked then consult a diagram for your car or use terminal  B (marked by wht/blu or blu (thick lead) depending on the vehicle.)


4.Crank the motor. A blinking light = bad coil, replace the coil. No blinking = a bad igniter (only if all input test to the igniter is fine, this includes the timing input signal .) Q: What is an timing input signal? A: The signal from the ECU that tells the igniter when to fire the coil. Currently the page to the signal from the ECU is under revision.

5. Connect a test light leads to an injector terminals. Crank the motor. A blinking light = most likely a bad igniter.  This concludes this test basic test. More in debt tests are under revision.

Note: Radio noise condenser (others are built into the igniter) can cause the engine to stall. (condenser capacity should be 0.47plus or minus0.09 microfarads. )

 





Figure 16. DIS Acura. Troubleshoot info upcoming.

 

 

 

  

How to bench test a coil is under revision. (This test doesn't test resistance, which is inaccurate.)
How to test the igniter in-car is under revision.
Learn more >>

How bench test an igniter?
See How to bench test the igniter  
(protected)

 

Testing safety tips: Always turn off ignition when not running any tests. Honda design its circuit to be ground safe. This means that a ground fault will unlikely damage most components. (But not where a short is creating zero or near zero resistance).  Do not tap or hammer on the distributor (near the coil) with a solid object or your coil may form a hairline crack.

 

Checking for reluctance signal from distributor. Notice that figure 14 has six wires from the reluctor sensors. These wires go in pairs per reluctor sensor. To find out which are in pairs measure for the resistance of each reluctor sensor. Each pair of wire should read at least some resistance while the harness is disconnected. The wires are also color coded. These wires usually run to the connector on the ECU and measurements can be taken there. If these wires are broken the ECU will put out a code. 

                                     

Can I measure the reluctor sensor using a DMM or voltmeter?

Yes.

  1. Disconnect the reluctor sensor connector on the distributor.

  2. Probe each reluctor sensor by setting your DMM to measure AC.

  3. Disconnect all the connector from the distributor and 

  4. Crank the engine and you should see the voltage change. The change in voltage should be about the same on the other sensors. If they are not then the ECU may have a hard time picking up the signals. The ECU might not register a code in this case. 

If all the signals are fine and the ECU still does not produce any (timing) signals for the igniter then the ECU may be at fault. (Notice that a bad main relay (at times) will not supply battery voltage to the ECU. This could cause it to have no sparks or no (ECU to igniter) timing signals. The most simplest check is input test on all major components such as the coil, igniter, and ECU. 

 

 

 

Distributor removal and installation

 

Step 1. Turn ignition OFF.


Step 2. Before disconnecting the ignition wires from the distributor cap mark the location of the wire to the cap. E.g. 1,2,3,4. Disconnect the ignition wires.


Step 3. Remove the bolts. Before sliding out the distributor from the head have a marking material (razor blade) ready to mark the distributor camshaft end. Remove the distributor. Mark the camshaft end to indicate its position required for installation.

 Wire Designations:  
 

Terminals colors below are for the 90-93 Accord

A. Blue for most Hondas/Acuras.
B. Blu2, Blu1 is for tach with in series resistor.
C. Blk/Yel.
D. Yellow green (Do not test with a test lamp.)

Terminals colors below are for the 86-89 Accord if applicable. 

A. Blue.
B. Lt/Grn but, at coil end Blk/Wht.
Disconnect the connectors from the distributor.

 

Step 4. Remove the distributor cap.

Step 5. Unscrew the rotor's fastener , if applicable, and remove it. If it does not come off, with two flathead screw driver pry it gently not damaging the sensors below it with a cloth.
CAUTION: Any shock could destroy the coil. Do not hammer or tap excessively.
TIP: If the phillips screw (or fastener) is stuck, crush the rotor with a vise grip.


Step 6. Remove the coil connections and then coil, if applicable, careful not to disturb it. Remove the igniter's connector carefully and remove igniter.

INSTALLING DISTRIBUTOR, IGNITER, COIL

Step 1. Installation is the reverse of the procedure except taking note below.


Step 4. Apply conducting grease and electrical connection grease before installation.

<----apply conduct grease on back, connections

Step 5. Apply a small coat of lubricant into the bottom bearing of the distributor shaft to lengthen the life of the bearing, and the avoiding the sensors. Note: A bad bearing is noticeable by a course and loose or wobbly spin.  A good bearing will spins without any loose or dry feeling and could be left alone. A bad bearing will overheat the distributor, destroying the bearing and igniter. That is why it is a good idea to apply conducting grease on the back of the igniter during installation.


Step 6. Install new or good condition distributor shaft o-ring, coating fresh oil on them. Install new or good condition distributor cap o-ring, observing the condition of the distributor cap terminal and scrape off any anomalies. A new distributor cap o-ring will help seal out moister during the rainy seasons which can prevent your car from not starting.

Coat fresh oil on small o-ring only----><----Do not coat oil on big o-ring.

 

What is an igniter input test? 

An input test measure battery power at the igniter terminals. Thus, the word input is what is going to the igniter.  A passed input test doesn't necessarily mean that the igniter is broken (Do not trust the service manual.) Do not replace it. Many people have used the original igniter for over 250K, requiring that you replace your ignition wires, caps and rotor often.

Steps for 1991-93 LEGEND 

  1. Disconnect the 8 pin connector from the igniter. Make the following tests at the harness pins.
  2. Check the BLK wire and BLK/O wire for continuity to ground. Continuity should exists. If not, check for poor ground connection at G102, for Legend. If okay, check for a faulty ignition coil or and open circuit.
  3. Turn the ignition switch ON, check for voltage at between the following circuits. Voltage should be present at each point:

WHT and ground

WHT/GRN and ground

WHT/BLK and ground

WHT/BLU and ground

WHT/YEL and ground

WHT/RED and ground

If voltage was not present at each point, check for a blown fuse; No. 25 fuse for Legend. Both fuses are (30 amp). If ok, check for a faulty ignition coil or an open circuit.


Steps for VIGOR

  1. Disconnect the 4 pin connector from the igniter.
  2. Check for continuity between the BLK wire and ground.
  3. If there is no continuity, proceed to the next step. If continuity is present, check for an open in the BLK wire, disconnected terminals or a poor ground connection.
  4. With the ignition switch ON, there should be battery voltage between the BLK/YEL wire and BLK wire.
  5. If voltage is not present, check for an open in the BLK/YEL wire, a disconnected terminal or perform a coil test. If voltage is present, proceed to the next step.
  6. With the ignition switch ON, there should be battery voltage between the BLU wire and BLK wire.
  7. If voltage is not present, check for, an open in the BLU wire between the ignition coil and the igniter or perform a coil test.

 

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